33¢ Korean War
Celebrate the Century – 1950s
Issue Date: May 26, 1999
City: Springfield, MA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
The Korean War was the first war in which a world organization, the United Nations, played a military role. The conflict presented a challenge to the U.N., which had come into existence just five years before the war began.
After World War II, Korea was divided into two countries, with the 38th parallel serving as the boundary line. Soviet troops occupied North Korea, and American forces, South Korea. In 1947, the U.N. declared that a vote should be held to elect one government for all of Korea, but Russia refused to allow elections. In 1948, North and South Korea established governments, each claiming the entire country under their rule. By 1949, U.S. troops had withdrawn from South Korea. The Communists believed the time was right for military action, and on June 25, 1950, North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel and attacked South Korea.
More than three years of fierce fighting raged back and forth. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, changed hands four times. In June of 1951, the Soviet delegate to the U.N. proposed a cease-fire. Truce talks began the next month, and the fighting ended on July 27, 1953. The U.N. had achieved all its objectives in Korea, and to many the Korean War proved that Communist aggression could be contained without using atomic weapons.